My wife and I have cruised on NCL many times, and have been very happy with the level of service we have received. However on this particular cruise on the Norwegian Spirit we were left feeling somewhat disappointed,somewhere between our last NCL cruise in April and this one, we noticed a significant decline in the quality of the food and the entertainment.
This cruise was taken to celebrate our daughters 30th birthday, along with her she was accompanied by her new fiancee and two of their friends from Keene New Hampshire.
The boarding procedure at the Port of Boston was a little chaotic, but surprisingly it went very quickly. Once on the ship we were given a glass of champagne, then we headed off to Raffles Buffet for some lunch.
When we arrived at our cabin, there were some minor issues, one of them were some ugly looking stains on the sheets and the comforter!!, that was not pleasant!! There was also some lights that were not working, and we were short on towels and a bath mat. To their credit however, all these issues were resolved very quickly.
I suppose my disappointment revolved around the food in the specialty restaurants, as well as some of the entertainment.
Firstly, lets talk about the specialty restaurants, the biggest disappointment was the quality in Cagney's!! normally a very very good restaurant. This time the food was sub standard, not cooked as requested, and service lacking.
The other one was Teppanyaki, a very popular place to eat and always difficult to get a reservation. This one requires that you can only book 24 hours out, so if you forget!! there is no way you will get in the following night. The one on the Spirit is smaller than some of the others in the NCL fleet, this one only holds 12 at a time. We managed to get the last reservation at 9.30pm!! normally this is far too late for us to eat, but because its always a fun experience we felt it was worth it.
We arrived on time and our orders were taken, the servers then started to deliver our appetizers.Normally during this time the Teppanyaki cook starts to do his thing,but for some reason he was missing, so here we are our starters completed, but no sign of the cook himself!!!
I went to the maitre di and inquired as to where he was? ( the time was now 10.00pm) as I ws speaking to him, the cook showed up and then began to cook the main courses. This is normally the most entertaining part of the meal, but we got the distinct impression that as this was the last reservation for that evening, he just wanted it over with. The food itself was very good, but overall considering the $25 per person charge, a very disappointing meal.
The service and food in La Trattoria ( Mama's Kitchen) was also sub standard and sadly disappointing. The highlight of the specialty restaurants was the Le Bistro, always a favorite of ours,and I am pleased to say it was still very good!!
The buffet was pretty good, always chaotic on the first couple of days, but once passengers find their way around it improves greatly.
There are two main dining rooms. one is Windows and the other is The Garden.
Out of these two, The Garden was much better, mainly due to service and not the food which was fine in both.
Now on to the entertainment around the ship, apart from a couple of singers who performed in Charlie's Champagne Bar, it was below par compared to the other NCL cruises we have been on. The duo at Charlie's were excellent, the problem was, that it led to the place being so crowded and sometimes impossible unless you were there very early, to get a table. If you were lucky to get a seat, most times there were only two waiters taking drink orders, so if you had dinner reservations, you barely had time to get your drink before taking with you to the restaurant.
A big disappointment was the NCL dancers and singers, without doubt the poorest assemble I have ever seen on an NCL cruise ship. For the first time ever we left the shows before they ended.
The other entertainment that was on around the ship was very good, for example Second City and the perennial game shows which were excellent and very popular.
Other positives were the staff around the ship, who I must say were were very friendly and always had time to say hello and smile.Our cabin steward in particular (Charles) and his assistant were terrific.
The ship itself is very pretty and tastefully decorated,and kept very clean.
Overall I just want to say that it was still a a very enjoyable cruise, I think that due to other NCL cruises we have been on, this one fell short of our expectations.
As for Bermuda, we just loved the island, so isolated, yet so civilized. We did a private tour on our first day with a company called "Unique Vacations" the owner is Judith O Connor, I would highly recommend her company for anyone who is looking for an in depth look at the wonderful sites this island has to offer, on top of that she has lived there all her life and is so friendly and knowledgeable. If you go to www.uniquevacations.com you can find out more information on the different tours they offer.
The other highlight was with "Jesse James Cruises" we did a snorkeling trip with them, and to be honest this was the best snorkeling we have ever done. The equipment was first class and the snorkeling locations were brilliant. You can look them up at http://www.jessiejames.bm/index.asp
We left Bermuda early on the morning of the 9th of September, that particular day was calm and the weather very good. However during the night and the next day we had a pretty good storm going, winds topping 55 mph, and swells over 40ft. I always enjoy this type of weather, but my wife unfortunately does not,so she had a miserable last day at sea.
The debarkation in Boston went really well and we were off the ship by 9.00am, so a very nice cruise overall, a lovely ship, and the staff absolutely wonderful. I am hoping that this was just a one off with NCL, because we have cruised with them the most, and would like that to continue.
One thing though that is bothering me more and more these days is the nickle and diming that seems to be on the increase on cruise ships, I know its not just NCL, but for me its pretty irritating to be honest.